Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Middle Temple Inn Theatre Playhouse

Picture of Blackfrairs Playhouse

Picture of Blackfrairs Playhouse

The Middle Temple


The Middle Temple Great Hall was built between 1562 and 1573 and was used as a venue for Elizabethan plays. The Hall measures 100 feet in length it has an 60 foot high oak double beam roof and a carved wooden screen.

Middle Temple is now known as one of the four Inns of Court School of Law English Barristers are still required to join one of the four Inns (Gray's Inn, Middle Temple Inn, Lower Temple Inn and Lincoln's Inn) to qualify as a barrister.

Entertainment at the Middle Temple - The Middle Temple Playhouse Theatre
It is not now generally known as a theatre but during the 15th and 16th centuries was used for a venue for lavish entertainment. Festival times celebrating Christmas and Candlemass were especially important and Middle Temple became famous for hosting various forms of entertainment including plays.  In 1602 William Shakespeare's acting troupe, the Chamberlain's Men, were invited to perform at the Middle Temple Hall. They gave the first recorded performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and it is believed that William Shakespeare was included in the cast. John Manningham, who was a member of the Temple, watched the production and wrote the following in his diary:"Feb 2 at our feast (Candlemas) we had a play called Twelfth Night or What you will, much like the Comedy of Errors or Menechmi in Plautus... A good practise is it to make the steward beleeve his Lady widdowe was in Love with him by couterfayting a lettre, as from his Lady, in general termes, telling him what shee liked best in him and prescribing his gesture in smiling his apparraile etc. And then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they took him to be mad."

The Middle Temple Indoor Elizabethan Playhouse Theatre
The known facts about the Middle Temple indoor Playhouse, which was used as one of the venues for English Elizabethan Theatre, are as follows:

  • London Location of the Middle Temple indoor Playhouse - City of London
  • The existing dining table at Middle Temple was presented by Queen Elizabeth I who had it cut from an oak in Windsor Park
Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Playhouses
The following interesting facts about the Elizabethan indoor playhouses, such as Middle Temple, provide an insight into the development of the modern theatre:

  • The Middle Temple, provided indoor venues for the production of Elizabethan plays
  • London Location of the Middle Temple indoor Playhouse - City of London
  • The existing dining table at Middle Temple was presented by Queen Elizabeth I who had it cut from an oak in Windsor Park.
  • Suitable for winter and evening productions
  • Indoor Playhouses were no so much private but exclusive
  • The Audience capacity was up to 500 people
  • The Great Halls in existing, prestigious, buildings were used as playhouses and venues for plays
  • The indoor Playhouses were lighted by candles so performances could be staged in the evening
  • The use of candles led to the introduction of intervals when burnt down candles were replaced
  • Food and drink was served during the intervals
  • Music and songs was strongly featured - the acoustics of the Middle Temple Playhouse, lent themselves to this effect
  • Beautiful scenery were introduced - as this was not open to the open air elements this could be re-used over and over again
  • Costumes tended to be quite sumptuous
  • The plays were selected to suit the indoor venues - the emphasis was on the words of the play rather than noisy special effects
Elizabethan Theatre
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